I’ve been a musician since I was seven, formally trained and all that, even spent a lot of years being in bands in school and not even school related and, as such, when I listen to music, some songs are just nice while others are like, wow – talk about being moved by either the lyrics or the musicality of the song itself.
For the last, oh, month or so, two songs have seriously gotten my attention which, overall, isn’t all that unusual by itself except, well, let’s say that it’s a good thing that you can’t wear out a song file all that easily.
The first song is one by a collaboration of musicians that until I heard this song, I never heard of them – except for their drummer. Vinny Valentino, Baron Browne, and drummer Joel Rosenblatt has a song on their album, “Double B Double V,” entitled, “Shake Me” and it’s a spirited, jazzy kind of song although Apple Music classifies the song in the R&B genre. The lyrics are cool and sassy with vocals provided by Chrissi Poland, who seems to also be their resident keyboardist and one of my favorite part of the lyrics is when she says, “Being with me is better than being alone…”
Joel Rosenblatt, formerly the drummer for my favorite jazz group, Spyro Gyra, well, that dude is just fucking amazing with his technique and beats and is one of those drummers who, even when I see him kicking it, makes me wonder, “How does he do that?” He’s just so fluid when he plays and makes the most intricate patterns sound amazing but looks effortless. It takes some, ah, interesting coordination to be able to play drums, getting your hands and feet to pretty much operate on their own but in a coordinated way and, sure, the better your kit is, the better you’re gonna sound… but Joel’s coordination is almost otherworldly as he flows over his kit.
I know that on some songs, some parts are “tricks” of recording, being able to lay down an initial track then go back and add additional tracks, something that’s pretty common but when you hear Joel play, what you hear is what he’s actually doing and it just amazes me how much stuff he can “cram” into a measure of music. Listening to him play – and seeing him perform when he was with Spyro Gyra – has influenced the way I play, just as the late, great Buddy Rich got me interested in playing the drums.
The second song that I’ve been wearing out comes from a smooth jazz artist that, again, I’d never heard of before I stumbled across the song. Steven “Euge Groove” Grove, I found, was a saxophonist for Tower of Power back in the day and, to be honest, not only did I not know this – and ToP is one of my favorite groups – I don’t remember how I found this song. The album is “Got 2 Be Groovin'” and the song is “In Love With You,” with Chanel Haynes providing the haunting, soulful vocals – and before hearing this song, I’d never heard of her, either but a bit of research revealed her gospel roots.
I’m taken with the lyrics and Chanel’s voice; you can hear how happy and joyous she feels about being in love and combined with the song’s score, wow, it just reaches out and touches the right places in me. There’s nothing… flashy about the music itself but the composition is magical and, as mentioned, haunting. The musician in me can listen to the individual parts of the song, a trick that, honestly, I don’t know how I do it although I’m sure that during my training, well, I learned how to do it and it’s something I just do without having to think about it. The drum track is simple but sweet, the bass line is also uncomplicated but in a way that just grabs me but, oddly, one of the things I don’t quite like about the song is Euge’s sax interludes and, for me, I think he’s playing the wrong sax; my ears tells me he’s playing the alto sax when, maybe, the soprano sax would have been a better sound choice… but that doesn’t mean much since I didn’t compose the song.
There’s a… breathiness in the way he plays on this song that doesn’t sound… clean to me; I’m not sure I can explain that except that while the sax parts are nicely woven into the song as a whole, they just don’t seem to really belong there, like the song would be just as good without the saxophone but, again, that’s just my opinion and doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely love this song.
Musically, the meter of the song is… off just a tad and I can hear it in the keyboard parts of the song and that’s one of the things that makes the song so interesting to me as a keyboardist and, indeed, it was the first thing I noticed about the song when I first listened to it; my keyboardist brain said, “Hmm, that’s just a bit off… but I like it!” In music, timing is everything and in another weird way, I can see how this was written in my mind to be just a tad bit off from the 4/4 flow of the song itself.
I stick my earbuds in, open the special playlist I created just for these two songs… and I listen; I get lost in them. One gets me energized, the other gets me feeling the mood of the song and carried away by the flow of it. Both are musically and vocally engaging.
I do question Apple Music’s classification of “Shake Me,” though. Like I said, it’s in the R&B genre when it’s clear to me that it’s more of a jazz composition than an R&B one but, again, that’s just my own opinion but, hey, if you want to, you can give it a listen and make your own determination on the genre of the song. If you don’t have Apple Music or some other service, you can hear both songs on YouTube.
I listen to a lot of music; most of the space on my iPhone and iPad is taken up by music more than apps and I keep telling myself that I need to get in there and clean things up and to remove music that I haven’t listened to in a while… except, there’s no telling when a particular song is going to pop into my head and needs to be listened to again.